Sometimes things just line up perfectly, beyond anything you could possibly have planned. Last week we began reading about the American Revolution. I got a bunch of picture books out from the library and we were immersing ourselves in it: The Boston Tea Party; Let It Begin Here (about Lexington and Concord); George vs George; Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?
I decided to look up possible local reenactments to attend. A friend of mine belongs to a reenactment group in Danvers, so I know there are a lot of things happening. Fortuitously, this weekend had several different events to attend. We decided that the Saturday afternoon dress rehearsal for the battle of Lexington Green would be the best one. The actual battle happened at about 5:30am on April 19 and that’s when the reenactment takes place. But that’s a bit early for us. Luckily, they do a dress rehearsal the weekend before, which was just about our speed.
We left at around 10, planning to get to Lexington in plenty of time to find parking and lunch and to look around a bit before the event started at 2. We got there a little too early so ended up walking about. We found a lovely children’s bookstore that was perfect for whiling away some time. Our family loves bookstores. Soon the kids had pulled books of the shelf and settled onto the cushions provided. We had to drag ourselves away.
Then we found a little deli where we got some sandwiches. They even had gluten free bread for Lucy. I had a very good caprese sandwich with prosciutto, my favorite. We got some chips and drinks too and went across the street to a park to eat. It was a bit chilly with a biting wind, but the kids ran around and kept themselves warm.
After lunch we ducked into the visitor’s center to get warm, look at souvenirs, and use the bathrooms. Then having more time to kill we visited Buckman’s Tavern, where the patriots gathered while awaiting news of the approaching redcoats. They had a nice audio tour, that everyone but Anthony enjoyed. I think he was overtired. He just fussed and dragged his feet.
Then we headed over to the Battle Green where already people were gathering. Redcoats in their shiny uniforms, the militiamen in their homespun coats. Muskets, wigs. Drums and fifes. We watched the militiamen drilling. The kids ran around on the grass.
The battle itself was thrilling. It took awhile for both sides to line up. The redcoats were in much neater ranks and outnumbered the militia men (the actual numbers for the battle were about 400 redcoats and 70 militia, present on Saturday were about 80 redcoat reenactors and maybe 30 colonials.) When the time came first there was a messenger came running up to announce that the Regulars were near. Then two men came running out of the tavern carrying John Hancock’s trunk.
Then finally the redcoat leader advanced and ordered the rebels to lay down their arms. There was a pause and then the rebel leader told his men to obey and lay down their arms and they all rushed over to hug the redcoats, a group of which broke out into song, “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” Everyone laughed and applauded and then the ranks were reformed and they did it for real.
The bluster and posturing, the fixing of bayonets and moving in for action. The shot rings out from the tavern because historians have no idea who shot first. Then a flurry of action and a bunch of the militiamen fall and the others turn and run and the redcoats chase them off among the houses. Then the minister and the women come running out to attend to the fallen.
The redcoats return and reform, fire a volley and then march off to the beat of a drum and the tune of Yankee Doodle followed by Rule Brittania. Then a bunch of standing around and they reformed and were just beginning a second go as we left. Time to get the tired kids home.
Of course once we got home Ben and Bella improvised muskets and demonstrated that they’d been paying attention to the proper way to load and carry them.